We had gotten back only the night before, Monday, after being away for almost a week, so the cupboards were almost bare, and Tuesday was not a Greenmarket day. Nevertheless, I knew I could still assemble a decent meal around virtually the only vegetables in the house, a beautiful red cabbage waiting in the crisper, and a few potatoes.
I removed some smoked pork chops from the freezer the night before, and the character of the next day’s dinner was decided.
I didn’t have any fresh herbs in the apartment, but I wouldn’t need them. I would have liked some kind of fresh allium for the Kassler, but I decided I could try a bit of celery as a substitute.
- chopped sections of one celery stalk from Lucky Dog Organic Farms, some of the tender leaves reserved for the end of the process, softened over a low to moderate flame in a tablespoon or so of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ that had been heated inside a heavy tin-lined copper skillet, two smoked 9-ounce loin pork chops from Schaller & Weber added, the pot covered with a universal copper lid and kept above a very low flame (just enough to warm the chops through, as they were already fully-cooked), turning the meat once, then, near the end of the cooking time (I went for about 7 minutes this time), a few more thin slices of celery added for a minute or so, the chops then arranged on the plates and the celery leaves that had been set aside earlier, now chopped, sprinkled on top, finished with a topping of a bit of horseradish jelly from Berkshire Berries
- roughly a tablespoon and a half of rendered duck fat heated/melted inside a large, heavy, enameled cast iron pot, one finely sliced 13 or 14-ounce red ‘beef heart’ cabbage from Tamarack Hollow Farm and 2 medium roughly-chopped shallots from Lucky Dog Organic Farm added and cooked, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage had softened slightly (about 10 minutes), then adding some salt, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and more than one teaspoon of a local apple cider vinegar from Race Farm, along with a sprinkling of freshly-ground black pepper, the heat reduced and the mixture cooked 10 minutes or so longer, or until the cabbage was wilted and the shallots softened, after which a little turbinado sugar was stirred in, followed by a few tablespoons of a mix of different types of raisins, and a tablespoon or more of red current jelly, the mix stirred well
- four medium Red Norland potatoes from Norwich Meadows Farm, scrubbed, boiled whole and unpeeled in heavily-salted water until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried in the still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, barely a tablespoon of butter added, seasoned with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, arranged on the plates and sprinkled with homemade breadcrumbs that had first been browned in a little butter with a pinch of salt
- the wine was an Austrian (Weinviertel) white, Riesling “Falkenstein” Dürnberg 2015, from Astor Wines
- the music was an album of piano music composed and performed by Philip Glass, ‘Solo Piano’, released in 1989
I thought this was going to be almost a throwaway meal, one which would be quick, easy, and include ingredients I didn’t want to hang around the apartment while we were gone for 5 days. I didn’t even expect to post about it, since there was nothing original or totally new in any of its elements.
But it all turned out to be pretty awesome, so here’s the story.
The only thing that was really new was this Napa cabbage (sometimes called ‘Chinese cabbage’), meaning the fact that it was a red Napa cabbage, something I had not cooked before. I had however at least once before used the recipe that I worked with last night on a green cabbage.
It was the last red Napa cabbage on the farmer’s table; it was beautiful to me, and it looked a little lonely, so I swept it up and brought it home.
It had to be roughly chopped and washed (although it’s actually a pretty neat ‘green’), and then drained.
- one 15-ounce duck breast from Hudson River Duck Farm, the fatty side scored in tight cross hatching with a very sharp knife, the entire breast rubbed, top and bottom, with a mixture of sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and a little turbinado sugar, then left standing, first inside the refrigerator and later on the counter, for about 45 minutes altogether, before being pan-fried, fatty side down first inside a small oval enameled cast iron pan over medium heat for a total of about 9 minutes, turning once, draining the oil after the first few minutes (the fat strained and used in cooking at another time, if desired), the breast removed when medium rare, cut crosswise into 2 portions and checked for the right doneness in the center, which means definitely no more than medium rare, and maybe even a bit less, left sitting for several minutes before it was finished with a drizzle of some juice of an organic lemon from Whole Foods Market, sprinkled with a bit of beautiful dark purplish (a phenomenon produced after the first light frost) summer savory from Quatron Farm and a little Portuguese house olive oil from Whole Foods Market
- the thinly sliced white and lighter green parts of 3 thin scallions from Berried Treasures Farm, heated along with a tablespoon of fennel seed in one tablespoon of olive oil inside a small, heavy tin-lined copper pot until the scallion had softened and the fennel had become pungent, then set aside, while another tablespoon of oil, or a little more, was heated inside a much larger heavy tin-lined copper pot, and one roughly chopped 10-ounce Napa cabbage from Lucky Dog Organic Farm was gradually added and stirred until all of it was slightly wilted, then removed from the burner while the reserved scallion-fennel mixture, some sea salt, and a little freshly-ground black pepper were added, and the cabbage stirred some more, finished by tossing in some scissored garlic chives from from Echo Creek Farm in the 23rd St market and garnishing with more of them
- a handful of garlic scapes from Berried Treasures Farm, trimmed, washed, drained, cut into one inch sections, and sautéed in a little olive oil inside a medium size antique heavy tin-lined copper pot until softened, a little bit of a mix of 3 kinds of finely chopped spicy/sweet seasoning peppers (red and green aji dulce and yellow Grenada, all from Eckerton Hill Farm) added near the end
- the wine was a California (North Coast) red, Alex and Ryan Present: Rudy’s Petite Sirah 2016, from Naked Wines
- the music was Mozart’s 1790 opera buffa, ‘Così fan tutte’, performed by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin
And when it was time to clean up, I saw that the pots, skillet, and spoons also looked darn pretty satisfied with themselves.
When I stopped inside Eataly’s Flatiron store on Friday, on my way home from the Union Square Greenmarket, I saw that Luca Donofrio‘s fresh pasta shop had some black truffle-filled pasta. I couldn’t use it that night, but I mad a note for myself (that is, a cellphone camera pic) to go back the next day or so.
I went back 2 days later, and we made a meal of it, with the help of an antipasto.
- the first course was a 2.5-ounce package shared by the 2 of us, of some delicious Principe Prosciutto di Parma from Whole Foods Market, served on a medium size plate arranged across from a spray of Betsey Ryder’s terrific arugula (although this makes no sense at all, the inside of the bag in which I’ve been keeping it smells like a mix of middle eastern spices!), from her family’s 18th-century heritage ‘Ryder Farm’, the arugula was sprinkled with Maldon salt, freshly ground black pepper, drizzled with juice from a fresh organic Whole Foods Market lemon and some good Campania olive oil (Lamparelli O.R.O.); the prosciutto was drizzled with the same oil, and the plate was accompanied by slices of an Eataly sesame baguette
- ten ounces of black truffle agnolotti from Luca Donofrio‘s fresh pasta shop inside Eataly’s Flatiron, briefly boiled, then, reserving a cup of the pasta water, drained and immediately slipped into a large antique high-sided tin-lined copper pan in which 3 tablespoons of Organic Valley ‘Cultured Pasture Butter’ (12 grams of fat) had been slowly melted, and about half a cup of reserved pasta water added gradually while using a small wooden spatula to stir the mix continually until the liquid had emulsified, seasoned with a generous amount of freshly-ground black pepper, divided into 2 warm shallow bowls, finished with some parmigiano reggiano (aged 24 months) from Whole Foods Market grated over the top
- the wine was an Italian (Alto Adige/Südtirol) white, Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco 2017, (pino bianco is known as Weißburgunder in Germany and Austria), from Garnet Wines
- the music was John Blow’s only music theater piece, his 1681 opera, ‘Venus and Adonis’, René Jacobs conducting the Orchestra of the Age Of Enlightenment
We’re leaving for Los Angeles in a few days, so I’ve been putting more simple meals than usual on the table, and working with whatever fresh ingredients we have on hand before we go. Consequently this pairing was at least partly an accident, although it seemed more like a brilliant inspiration once we sat down to try it.
- one swordfish steak (13.5 ounces) from American Seafood Company picked up the same afternoon at Chelsea’s Down to Earth Farmers Market on 23rd Street, halved vertically, marinated on an ironstone platter for a little more than half an hour, turning once, in a mixture of olive oil, a tablespoon of fresh torn peppermint from Keith’s Farm, a small amount, chopped, of an aji rico pepper (medium spicy/hot) from Alewife Farm, and the white sections, chopped section of 2 very small scallion from Berried Treasures Farm, after which the swordfish was drained well, both sides covered with a coating of homemade dried breadcrumbs, pan-grilled over medium-high heat for 3 or 4 minutes on each side, or until just barely fully cooked all of the way through (think of the texture of a fresh good cheesecake), removed from the pan and arranged on 2 plates, sprinkled with a little Maldon sea salt, some of the chopped green parts of the scallions, and drizzled with a bit of juice from a Whole Foods Market organic lemon squeezed, garnished with purple micro radish from Windfall Farms
- a very cool, sort of sweet-sour fresh green salsa assembled from half a pound of tiny, mostly tart, green tomatoes from Berried Treasures Farm, halved; a bit of peperoncino Calabresi secchia from Buon Italia; a portion of one finely chopped aji dulce (sweet) pepper from Eckerton Hill Farm; one small sliced and chopped red onion from Quarton Farm; a little turbinado sugar; a pinch of sea salt; some scissored garlic chives from Echo Creek Farm in the Saturday Chelsea Farmers Market (through December on the north sidewalk of 23rd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenues); and some chopped lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- the wine was an Italian (Marche) white, Le Salse, Verdicchio di Matelica, 2016, from Flatiron Wines
- the music was a new recording of Monteverdi’s ‘Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria’, John Eliot Gardiner conducting the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir in a live recording from The National Forum of Music in Wrocław
The tautog, or blackfish. It’s one of my favorites. It doesn’t show up often in the fish market, but I can rarely keep from bringing some home when it does.
- a single 14-ounce fillet of Blackfish/Tautog from Pura Vida Seafood Company , prepared mostly as described in this recipe by Melissa Clark, laying the fish skinned side down and kept there without turning, and then, to be specific about the other ingredients I used, the fresh sage was from Phillips Farm; the olives were kalamata, from Whole Foods Market, and the lemon juice was squeezed from a Whole Foods Market organic fruit, and although for the first time ever when cooking this recipe I would have been able to include the elusive ‘Aleppo Syrian red pepper’ [I found some from Morton & Bassett at the Westside Market] that it specifies, but I rushed through the preparation and totally forgot the last step, in which the fish would be dusted with “Urfa or Aleppo red pepper”, but I did toss some finely chopped small (sweet) yellow Grenada seasoning peppers from Eckerton Hill Farm, and garnished the plate with some purple micro radish from Windfall Farms, and the results were terrific!
I guess we know why they’re called ‘blue eyes’.
- a pound of ‘blue eyes’ potatoes from Berried Treasures Farm, boiled with a generous amount of salt until barely cooked through, drained, halved, dried while still inside the large still-warm vintage Corning Pyrex Flameware blue-glass pot in which they had cooked, tossed with some good Portuguese olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, freshly-ground black pepper, and 3 garlic scapes from Berried Treasures Farm, cut into short sections, that had been softened by heating them in olive oil inside a small
- the wine was a California (Napa Valley) white, Alex and Ryan Present: Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2017, from Naked Wines
- the music was the album. ‘L’esprit d’Armenie’, with Jordi Savall and his Hespèrion XXI